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Front Page: Dealing with Wheeler Gets Minnesota an Ace

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:19 PM
This offseason the Minnesota Twins chief focus is going to be on acquiring impact pitching. The front office has suggested as much, and w...

Plan to reduce minor league teams

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 03:06 PM
https://www.nytimes....ue-changes.html   https://www.baseball...r-league-teams/   It would appear that MLB must be thinking the...

Front Page: Hot Corner Consideration: Potential Third Bas...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:58 PM
Inside the Twins’ meeting rooms this winter, plenty of discussion will be focused on starting pitching. However, third base should be a s...

Front Page: Can the Twins Become the New Astros? Part 2

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:15 PM
After looking into the similarities in the use of analytics, technology, and communication in both the Twins and Astros organizations in...

Front Page: Three Critical Developments in Tyler Duffey...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:10 PM
Despite having a clear need in their bullpen, the Twins spent last offseason focusing on offensive upgrades. Their only addition was fung...

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Puddin’ Providin’ Proof at Third Base

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 06 March 2019 · 952 views

minnesota twins willians astudillo miguel sano
Miguel Sano won a Dominican Winter League championship this offseason. He also showed up to Spring Training in a much more trimmed down fashion. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he suffered an unfortunate cut on his heel and has now dealt with healing complications that will shelve him until May. Prior to this development, I wasn’t sure that everyone’s favorite folk hero Willians Astudillo was going to make the 25-man roster. Now it’s all but guaranteed, and the rubber begins to hit the road.

Going into 2019 Rocco Baldelli will almost certainly employ Marwin Gonzalez as his starting third basemen. Gonzalez was acquired as a free agent after having served in a super utility role for the Houston Astros. He had a down 2018 but has previously put up gaudy offensive numbers. His most vital contribution is that he can spell players all over the diamond and should end up playing no less than five different positions for Minnesota in 2019. What that also means is he’ll need a break at the hot corner.

Enter La Tortuga.

Astudillo has set Twins Territory ablaze with her persona and ability since emerging on the scene. He joined the Twins organization, his fourth professionally, in 2018. At Triple-A Rochester he posted a .782 OPS that is just a tick above his .754 minors mark/ His calling card has been the way he attacked pitches, and his bat to ball abilities. In over 2,400 minor league plate appearances Willians has struck out just 81 times, drawing 85 walks. In fact, his 65 HBP almost surpass that paltry strikeout total. To put it mildly, it’s insane.

If you wanted to throw water on this fire, September’s production for Astudillo wasn’t going to help you. Although MLB rosters expand and the competition may decrease a bit, Willians made his MLB debut and posted an .887 OPS across 97 plate appearances for the Twins. He struck out just three times, walking twice, and notching eight extra-base hits (three homers). His swinging strike rate was just 4.7% and the 91.7% contact rating was exceptional. Across 458 hitters with at least 90 plate appearances last season, Astudillo’s swinging strike rate was 10th best, and his contact rate stood alone at the top.

Projected for 385 plate appearances in 2019, ZiPS has Astudillo coming in with a .280/.307/.459 slash line. It’s hard to know how much run the Venezuelan will get off the bench with other utility options on the roster, but there’s going to be opportunity. What’s certain is that Astudillo has made believers of many throughout Twins Territory, and it appears he has the respect and admiration of his peers within the clubhouse as well.

Oftentimes we aren’t given the answer as to whether a September promotion is substantiated from a fringe player. In this scenario, we’re going to find out just how real the production was, and for Minnesota’s sake, how much a man nicknamed “The Turtle” can be a difference maker in the early going.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

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